Featured Photog: Mary Macomber

Meet this weeks featured photog…

Mary Macomber

Pebbles and Polka Dots Photography

Fan Page : Site

Tell us a little about yourself in just two sentences and include a picture of yourself.

I’m a mom of 3 little lovies (6, 4, and 2), married to my best friend who is a US Marine, and consider myself very lucky in life. I have an obsession for salads, lemonade, and Sour patch kids. <3

What do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens and why?

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark ii and my favorite lens is my 70-200mm

When did you start shooting for fun and then move to shooting professionally?

I started photography back in 2006 when my husband first deployed to Iraq and our daughter was 3 months old. All I could do to keep him connected to us is email photos, so I captured everyday of her life and sent him tons of pictures. After awhile my friends were seeing the photos and asked me to take some of their kids to send to their husbands. That’s when it all begun.

Are you formally taught or self taught?

I am 50% self taught. I have taken Photography and Photoshop classes in college and also attended workshops with Laura Brett Photography, Robin Long Photography,, and Jennie Pyfferoen Photography. I also have gained a ton of guidance from Kristen Mackey from Son Kissed Photography who will also be heading into my studio in just a few more weeks for a workshop I am hosting for her as well. ☺

What is your specialty and how did you decide to specialize in that area of photography?

Newborns is my specialty as I just love the artistic aspect of it. Snuggling the babies and seeing the parents so excited about this new life they just created is a bonus. There is nothing more beautiful.

How many sessions are you shooting a month?

Right now about 20 while my husband is home for the Summer, but once the kids are back in school I’ll be going back to about 10-12 a month. My kiddos are my main priority and I want to make sure I am around and there for them when they need me. <3

On average how long to do you spend editing each session and do you listen to music while editing or just enjoy the quiet?

Depending on the session, it’s about  4-6 hours a session editing away from start to finish. Since I only edit at night after the kiddos are in bed, I usually am listening to some reality show that was taped on my DVR ( I am a Real Housewives lover, oh yes, I admit it). Or if there isn’t anything good in the old DVR, I have Bon Iver or Sigur Ros playing in the background. They really help my artist soul to shine. <3

What is your favorite part of the process? Shooting, editing, etc.

My favorite part of the whole process is thinking about my set ups and what props to use. That is the start for me and my whole session is based upon those ideas. Editing is my least favorite part.

What is the best marketing tool that works for you or was a total waste of time? Do you advertise in print? Do you offer referral bonuses? If yes, please share a little.

The best Marketing tool for me was to get my name into a Moms group when I first moved to this area. I automatically picked up 10+ clients from it and got the ball rolling on my business taking off. I advertised once in print and paid $500 for 30 days and got one client out of it. All of my business now comes from word of mouth from my clients. My clients are the best ever. Seriously, so supportive and so very sweet. My gifts to them are every month I have a giveaway on my Facebook page where I give a gift certificate away worth $100-$500. It’s amazing how many people play, and sometimes if it’s a huge turn out, I’ll surprise them and giveaway 3 at a time that month. ☺

What do you do to “stand out” from surrounding photographers that you’re competing with?

I’m not competing with anyone. I mean, I only take on as much as I can handle with the amount of business I do, so I am happy where I’m at and love that others around me are successful too. For me it’s not a competition. I think I stand out in my own way as they do too. My photos are organic, earthy, and timeless pieces of art that you don’t feel you need to update when they are hanging on your wall. That’s all I want to accomplish. ☺

What do you do to help a client come out of their “shell” during a session?

I make a total fool of myself. I crack a lot of jokes, dance, sing, jump up and down, and also tell stories of past sessions. I also like to show the clients the images in camera and show them how beautiful they look. If all else fails, I tell them they have to get naked for the next shot. That usually cracks them up immediately.

What do you struggle with the most?

For me, my biggest struggle is running the business and balancing my home life. Seriously, it’s hard being a photographer. People think I work 2 hours at the session and make a ton of money. It’s more like 70+ hours at home doing all the rest. Post processing, editing, packaging, emails, education, Skype sessions, ordering materials, PROP SHOPPING, etc, etc. Plus, now that I have the studio, that is a whole other part to take care of too. It’s like having an apartment to clean and keep up, paying the bills, stocking the snacks and fridge for clients, and making it show ready. I also am not a good office chick. So keeping up with all that is nails on a chalkboard for me. Thankfully I hired an Office assistant to help keep my head above water with all of that.

How did you find your style? Any advice to new photographers on how to find their own style?

It took me a few good years of practicing and sorting thru what I like and what I didn’t. This past Spring I had a session in the woods. I was in love. Ever since then, I try to incorporate the earth (colors, or items from it) into all of my sessions to maintain my look. My advice for other photographers is to stop comparing yourself to everyone around you. Take a break from the internet and start looking around your home. What brings you the most comfort and what are your favorite colors, and things. Then start bringing those things into your sessions. For example, your home is usually decorated by your style. My house is full of trees. Tree paintings, tree photos, tree branches, swirly leaf paintings, etc. The signs were there all along. I just needed to stop and see them.

Please share your favorite image and tell us what makes this your favorite?

This is my favorite image from this past year. It was from my first complete outdoor newborn session and seriously, I am in love. I wish I had one like this to hang in my home of myself with my babies. Every aspect of this photo I love. It’s so natural, and yet earthy, and to me perfect. Every time I see it, it makes me smile. <3

Can you show us your shooting space? If you are shooting inside can you show a simple pull back shot or lots of images if you have a large studio. If you shoot on location please share an image of your favorite location.

Here is a photo of my little studio. It’s about 700sq ft and suites me perfect for what I need. I use only natural light so as you can see I have the perfect windows in there for the job. Behind that door is a huge room full to the brim with props. It’s a little bit like TLC Hoarders;)But I love it.

Is there anything you would like to promote? Maybe a mentoring you offer or any side projects.

I was offering workshops for Moms to learn how to use their cameras over the past year, but my schedule is just to full to keep these going right now. I still will do one on ones with anyone interested in learning how to use their camera on Manual. They can contact me for more info.

I would also like to take a second and mention an amazing foundation. The Tiny Sparrow Foundation. They provide photography for kids that have terminal illnesses. If you are a photographer and looking to volunteer somewhere, this organization is amazing and holds a special place in my heart. Here is their Facebook page and you can find more information there: https://www.facebook.com/#!/TinySparrowFoundation

Please share an image of your Prop stash! This doesn’t have to be an organized space just an image showing off your addiction.

This is just a SMALL portion of my prop stash. What I have organized at home in one of my bedroom closets for on-location sessions. My studio closet is about 8 times the size and full. Yes, I know, I have a problem. I’m a propaholic.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to a new photographer?

My best advice to give another photographer is make sure you learn your camera first. Next be prepared to start with doing a lot of sessions for free or for pennies. You need a portfolio before a business. Also, don’t copy your local photographers, or recreate what you see. Put your own spin on it, and add your own touch to a good idea. People notice when your not original, and they really notice, when you are unique.


More of Mary’s beautiful images:

Thank you for sharing with us Mary! You are a HUGE inspiration.

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Christina Skinner - October 5, 2012 - 10:59 am

I really enjoyed that interview! Your images are so gorgeous and I agree, you are a huge source of inspiration. You have so much consistancy in your images, something I’m trying to work on. I’m still finding my style.

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